WASHINGTON: Mitt Romney has accused Barack Obama's White House of leaking national security secrets in order to bolster the President's reputation in a major foreign affairs speech hours before he was to depart on a trip to London, Israel and Poland.
Addressing a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, the unofficial Republican candidate said: "Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed and punished.
''What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?
"Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorise it?" Mr Romney asked.
"These are things that Americans are entitled to know - and they are entitled to know right now. If the President believes - as he said last week - that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts."
Mr Romney was referring to leaked details in media reports about cyber attacks against Iran and the use of a double agent to foil a bomb plot by al-Qaeda.
"What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?" he said. "I'll tell you right now: Mine will not."
The Attorney-General, Eric Holder, has launched an investigation into the source of the leaks.
Mr Romney used comments by the Democratic leader of the Senate intelligence committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, to bolster his attack.
''I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,'' she told a World Affairs Council forum on Monday.
Earlier yesterday, she released a statement reiterating that she did not believe the President was behind the leaks.
"I shouldn't have speculated beyond that, because the fact of the matter is I don't know the source of the leaks," she said.
In a speech that appeared to be designed to blunt any political advantage Mr Obama may have gained by authorising the killing of Osama bin Laden, Mr Romney also attacked the President for planned defence cuts and he described his foreign affairs stance as tougher than the President's.
"If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your president, you have that president today.''